It is quite common to include a Letter of Wishes with a Will in order to provide guidance as to how the Executors/Trustees are to exercise their powers when carrying out their duties.
The contents within a Will, such as specific gift clauses for example, are legally binding meaning that the Executor/Trustees of the Will have a strict legal duty to distribute each specific gift in accordance with the Testator’s (person making the Will) intentions.
A letter of wishes may be an immensely useful document when considering what should happen to and ultimately who should inherit personal possessions which have no particular value but may hold some sentimental significance. If you were to include within a Will a list of what happens to all of the Testator’s personal items then the Will would become a particularly cumbersome and lengthy document and mean that the Executors/Trustees would be legally bound to hand out gift after gift to the correct beneficiaries named in the Will. Long lists of specific gifts in a Will can also become unworkable and rigid meaning that you would have to change your Will every time you wanted to add or vary a gift or change who the gift was going to or what that gift may be. One way around this would be to create a letter of wishes to accompany the Will.
One example within a letter of wishes would be to leave all personal items to one trusted beneficiary and then set out in a letter of wishes how you would like that beneficiary to distribute your items, or what order you would like them to be selected by the other beneficiaries. This is a useful way to prevent potential squabbling or disagreement over sentimental personal items’s following your death.
A Letter of Wishes may also be suitable if you have a Guardianship Clause in your Will wish provides guidance to the Guardian(s) of your children as to things like religion, upbringing, education residence and so on.
A letter of wishes is not suitable for every situation but they are certainly something that should be considered when making a Will.
As a letter of wishes is not legally binding then there is nothing to stop the trusted beneficiary from actually keeping the personal items themselves, so if this is a concern or there is a specific item that you would like to give to someone for certain then it’s best to include this within the Will itself.
Here at Laker Legal Solicitors we offer fixed fees for Will writing and we also offer fixed fees for an accompanying letter of wishes so please don`t hesitate to contact us for more information.
All information is correct on the date of posting.